We all know that Hyderabad is famous for its Biryani (yummy!), but what it is also famous for is producing a gem of a player. Yes, I am referring the golden girl from Hyderabad, Saina Nehwal, India’s ace shuttler, who displayed scintillating performances to clinch the women’s singles title at the Syed Modi International Badminton Championship.
The Syed Modi International Badminton Championship, as the title suggests, is organised in memory of eight-time national champion late Syed Modi. The event was initially an All India tournament, which was upgraded to an International Challenge event in 2004, before being promoted to a Grand Prix Gold event in 2009.
What is more is that it contains a cash prize of USD 120,000 for the winner.
The Women’s Singles Draw:
Nehwal, having won the tournament 2 times and being the defending champion, was definitely tipped to win it again. However, she was also bound to face stiff competition from fellow Indian PV Sindhu and of course, the reigning World Champion: Spain’s Carolina Marin, and she did.
How it panned out:
- In the semi-finals, Marin hardly worked up a sweat against the 19-year-old Sindhu. Marin, who now leads 3-1 in career meetings against Sindhu, comfortably defeated the two-time World Championship bronze medallist, Sindhu in straight games, with a score of 13-21, 13-21.
- Top seed and World No.3, Nehwal took 40 minutes to register a comprehensive 21-10, 21-16 victory over Thai fourth seed Nichaon Jindapon. And with this, she too eased her way into the final.
The results meant that Nehwal and Marin were set for an epic battle to win the prestigious tournament.
- Nehwal did not get off to a good start as Marin raced away to a 5-2 lead. However, the Hyderabadi girl came back strongly, as she has done time and again, to win a number of points in the next few minutes to take a vital 15-7 advantage. Just when it was looking like Nehwal would seal the game, Marin showed her class to closed the gap at 17-all. The Spaniard carried the momentum with some wonderful shots and went on to bag the first game 21-19.
- The second game was just as intriguing, if not more, for both players were showcasing wonderful shots. But when the score was 15- all, the world champion Marin raised her game and took a 3 point lead over opponent. It was here when the 24-year-old Indian crucially saved two match points (phew!) Nehwal played some exemplary shots and equalled Marin’s points. Marin reverted by saving Nehwal’s two game points but the Indian got the better of the second seed by winning her third game point and pushing the match into the third and decisive game.
- The second game victory gave Nehwal the momentum and confidence she needed and she dominated the initial periods of the deciding third game to build a mammoth lead of 15-7. The world champ tried to fight back but it was too much a task for her.
- The final result: The Golden Girl from Hyderabad won the hard-fought battle with a score of 19-21, 25-23, 21-16 to clinch the title!
This victory has given Nehwal an optimistic start to 2015. We can expect a lot more to come from her in the upcoming tournaments. Looking forward to a great year for Indian badminton!
By Yash Jain